Blood­borne

Miyazaki mas­ter­work

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated videogames/miscellaneous -

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

Plat­form: PS4 Pub­lisher: Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment

Yes, Hide­taka Miyazaki’s de­but PS4 hack ’ n’ slasher is hard. No, it’s not quite as good as Dark Souls. But get ready to hurt and be joy­ously chuffed about it.

From Soft­ware’s le­gacy shows through: the tightly choreographed quasi- open- world ex­plo­ration of Dark Souls is welded to­gether by the in­ter­con­nected hub world sys­tem seen in De­mon’s Souls. It’s a hugely suc­cess­ful struc­tural mish- mash, and one that of­fers un­par­al­leled player agency when it comes to deal­ing with the ut­terly ex­act­ing, won­der­fully poised third- per­son com­bat model.

This is the most overtly hor­ror­flavoured game From has ever de­signed. The city drips with dread; its cob­bled, gothic streets smother you as cramped en­vi­ron­ments and bay­ing mobs look to end your mys­te­ri­ous Hunter’s life. The com­bat is just about the most thought­fully con­structed, con­stantly ex­hil­a­rat­ing fight­ing sys­tem we’ve ever played, cer­tainly on PS4. Learn­ing its in­tri­ca­cies is ter­ri­fy­ing. Be very afraid. “Shields are nice, but not if they en­gen­der pas­siv­ity,” snarls one item de­scrip­tion, mock­ing you for even en­ter­tain­ing the idea of us­ing a piece of equip­ment that was once be­yond vi­tal to skir­mishes in From’s pre­vi­ous games.

Blood­borne erects the pil­lars of its com­bat upon scin­til­lat­ing, unyield­ing ag­gres­sion. Where in Dark Souls you would rhyth­mi­cally block and parry, here the game is won and lost by how ef­fec­tively your Hunter can dart and dash around their enemies. Strik­ing back af­ter be­ing hit is also key – the Re­gain sys­tem means you can now win back a chunk of lost HP should you land an attack within the first sec­ond or so of be­ing wailed on.

Sadly, on a tech front, some fail­ings hob­ble the game’s grab for top score. The cam­era can be a night­mare dur­ing boss fights – an out­come of slap­ping mas­sive foes into cramped are­nas. More prob­lem­atic is the fram­er­ate; Blood­borne doesn’t quite hit a steady 30fps, which makes pan­ning the cam­era an oc­ca­sional jud­der­ing an­noy­ance.

We still love Blood­borne, though. The com­bat is peer­less, the world cap­ti­vat­ing and the sense of deadly ex­plo­ration never more com­pelling. Miyazaki and From Soft­ware have de­liv­ered an­other bru­tal, bril­liant hack ’ n’ slash pack­age, the PS4’ s first es­sen­tial, be­spoke cur­rent- gen ex­clu­sive. Buy it. Love it. Fear it. Dave Meik­le­ham

An­other bru­tal, bril­liant hack ’ n’ slash pack­age

And this is why you shouldn’t walk home alone af­ter dark.

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